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Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Prediction, preview, pick to win

Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Prediction, preview, pick to win
minnesota-vikings-vs-pittsburgh-steelers-prediction-preview-pick-to-win
SERIES HISTORY: 17th regular-season meeting. Vikings lead series, 9-7, but the Steelers have won three of the past four. The Vikings won the most recent meeting, 34-27, in September 2013 in London. The Steelers won the only postseason meeting between the teams. The Steelers beat the Vikings 16-6 in Super Bowl IX.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Steelers want to have a balanced offense. That's their goal every week. But in the opener at Cleveland, especially early in the game, the Browns' style of defense and some early penalties forced the Steelers to deviate from their plan. They passed 36 times and ran it just 17. Expect that to change against the Vikings. Running back Le'Veon Bell had just 10 carries for 32 yards against the Browns. The Steelers want to get him more touches, so he can develop a rhythm.

When the Steelers are on defense, and the Steelers will try to limit his effectiveness. If they can do that and force Sam Bradford into obvious passing situations, they'll look to stuff the run and make the Vikings a one-dimensional offense. Vikings rookie running back Dalvin Cook had 127 yards in his debut, they should be able to tee off and rush the passer. They sacked Browns rookie DeShone Kizer seven times.

The Vikings have to stop receiver Antonio Brown. To do that, they first must stop Bell. The Vikings' run defense slammed the door early on Adrian Peterson and the New Orleans Saints. If the same can be done against Bell and the Steelers,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthentics.com/donnel-pumphrey-jersey-authentic]Authentic Donnel Pumphrey Jersey[/url], the Vikings have the corners to slow Brown.

Offensively, the three-and-outs will pile up,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/mack-hollins-jersey-authentic]Authentic Mack Hollins Jersey[/url], the Vikings' line needs another clean performance. No pre-snap penalties in the hostile surroundings. If they start doing that, and the Steelers will take control of the game.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Vikings WR Stephon Diggs vs. Steelers CB Joe Haden and CB Artie Burns. Diggs had seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints while Haden was targeted early and often by the Browns. This is the reason the Steelers traded for Haden -- to match up with other team's top receivers. Burns will get his chances to cover Diggs because the Vikings move him around in their formations.

 the team's Pro Bowl corner,--Steelers WR Antonio Brown vs. Vikings CBs Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman. Rhodes,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/jordan-hicks-jersey-authentic]Authentic Jordan Hicks Jersey[/url], is expected to shadow Brown whenever he lines up outside. Rhodes usually shadows a receiver of Brown's ability. But he hasn't gone inside and lined up over a receiver in the slot. Brown can be a dangerous slot receiver. Newman, took the bulk of the snaps in the nickel slot position last week. Mackensie Alexander,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/isaac-seumalo-jersey-authentic]Authentic Isaac Seumalo Jersey[/url], the 39-year-old former starter, a second-year pro who has yet to seize his opportunity to be the full-time nickel corner, could see snaps inside as well. But the Vikings will want to try to keep either Rhodes or Newman on Brown for most of the game.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Steelers WR Martavis Bryant. Bryant was quiet in his first game since January 2016. The Browns held him to two catches for 14 yards. Look for the Steelers to get their big-play receiver a little more involved against the Vikings. Bryant was a big-play machine in 2014 and 2015. He missed last season on a drug suspension. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will look his way more this week.

FAST FACTS: Minnesota QB Sam Bradford completed 84.4 percent of his passes for 346 yards,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/wendell-smallwood-jersey-authentic]Authentic Wendell Smallwood Jersey[/url], 303 yards and two TDs in his past two road games. ... Minnesota DE Everson Griffen had six tackles and a sack last week. He had a sack and forced fumble in the last meeting. He has 31.5 sacks since 2014, three TDs and no INTs last week. In his past three vs. the AFC, he has 854 passing yards, three TDs and one INT. ... Vikings RB Dalvin Cook rushed for 127 yards in Week 1, fifth in the NFL. ... Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger passed for 263 yards, the most by a Viking in his NFL debut. ... Minnesota WR Adam Thielen led the team with nine receptions and 157 yards last week. He has 16 receptions, two TDs and one INT last week. He had 383 passing yards in the last meeting. He is 32-15 vs. the NFC. ... Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown had 11 catches for 182 yards in Week 1. He has six games with at least 175 yards since entering league in 2010, most among active players. He caught 12 passes for 88 yards in the last meeting.

PREDICTION: The Vikings' stout defense should be able to force Pittsburgh to be one-dimensional, and Bradford figures to hit some downfield plays vs. the Steelers' revamped secondary.

T.J. Watt doesn't expect groin injury to be serious

T.J. Watt excited Sunday's game after suffering a groin injury during the first half of Pittsburgh's victory over the Vikings. Watt didn't return to the game but did watch the second half from the sideline. 

Pittsburgh's No.1 pick addressed his injury following the Steelers' 26-9 victory. 

"T.J. Watt said he doesn't expect his groin injury to be serious," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported, "and isn't worried about it but will find out more in the next day or so."

Watt did make several plays before suffering his injury that included this impressive deflection of Case Keenum's pass attempt. 

Steelers stuck in dark on Lawrence Timmons

The Steelers that knew of Lawrence Timmons' reported disappearance from the Miami Dolphins intended to talk to their former teammate. Those that didn't know were confused. All were concerned.

"I heard something," guard Ramon Foster said. "I'm not sure what it is, but I'm going to check and see as soon as I get a chance to clear it up."

Sunday marked the first Steelers home opener since 2009 without Lawrence Timmons taking the field and the first Pittsburgh game in more than a decade without Timmons as a member of the organization. The Dolphins, $12 million contract in March didn't know where he was Saturday before locating him on Sunday, who signed him to a two-year, according to reports by The Miami Herald and FOX Sports .

His replacement, Vince Williams, four-year understudy and fellow former Florida State Seminole, planned on finding out what went wrong with Timmons shortly after Pittsburgh's 26-9 win against the Minnesota Vikings .

"I'm about to call him tonight, and see what's up with him, though,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthentics.com/donnel-pumphrey-jersey-authentic]Womens Donnel Pumphrey Jersey[/url]," Williams said.

He had not heard from Timmons in the past couple days. Williams, who jokes about many topics,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/mack-hollins-jersey-authentic]Womens Mack Hollins Jersey[/url], kidded that he would try to get Timmons back with the Steelers.

Timmons had repeatedly stated his intention to retire with the team when asked in the last few years of his career in Pittsburgh.

"Im trying to get my dog to come back," Williams said. "I'm [going to] get my dawg to come back."

Despite the yearly NFL roster churn, who had not,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/jordan-hicks-jersey-authentic]Womens Jordan Hicks Jersey[/url], 37 of the 46 players who suited up for the Steelers had done so with Timmons. Even Mike Hilton, shared a locker room with him as a practice squad player last season.

Cameron Heyward has taken over helping anchor and lead the Pittsburgh front seven alongside and now in the absence of Timmons. They were both first-round picks of the Steelers. Timmons was Mike Tomlin's first.

In Los Angeles on Sunday, Timmons missed his first game in eight years.

Gallery: Vikings fall to Steelers without Bradford

By the numbers: 3 cool stats from the Steelers' win over the Browns

If you just looked at the boxscore from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 21-18 win over the Cleveland Browns,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/isaac-seumalo-jersey-authentic]Womens Isaac Seumalo Jersey[/url], you might not see much to get excited about. However, some of the stats from Sunday are pretty huge when in context. Here are three interesting numbers from Sunday’s game.

Blocked punt for touchdown

After the Steelers’ defense forced a three-and-out on the opening drive, but in perspective,[url=http://www.eaglesfootballauthenticss.com/wendell-smallwood-jersey-authentic]Womens Wendell Smallwood Jersey[/url], special teams turned it into points. Linebackers Tyler Matakevich and Anthony Chickillo combined for the blocked punt and touchdown. This was impressive on its own, it was even bigger.

The last guy who would brag out his stats is QB Ben Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger has moved into No. 9 all-time in passing yards. If he can put together a strong season, so we will do it for him. With Sunday’s 263-yard passing performance, he could end up passing Warren Moon and John Elway this year.

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